John Hinckley, Who Tried to Assassinate Ronald Reagan, Can Now Share His Art With the World, a Judge Rules

The 65-year-old hopes to sell his art on Etsy and upload his music to streaming services.

John Hinckley, Jr., in the back of a vehicle outside a federal court in DC. Courtesy of Getty Images.

A federal judge in Washington, DC, has ruled that would-be Ronald Reagan assassin John Hinckley, Jr., who tried to kill the President in 1981, can display his artwork and music under his own name.

Since 2016, when he was released from the psychiatric hospital in which he had spent more than three decades, Hinckley has shared his personal artwork and music online anonymously, per the restrictions of his convalescent leave.

But the now 65-year-old has been frustrated with the lack of attention his creations have garnered.

In his decision this week, Judge Paul Friedman agreed to ease the restrictions, noting that a recent status assessment put together by the Department of Behavioral Health affirmed that Hinckley “posed a low risk for future violence under the proposed conditions.”

Now, Hinckley, who lives with his mother and works in an antique shop in Williamsburg, Virginia, says he hopes to make an income from his creative work, possibly selling his art through Etsy and uploading his music to various streaming services. 

“I create things I think are good and, like any other artist, I would like to profit from it and contribute more to my family,” he said in an interview included in the assessment. “I feel like I could help my mother and brother out if I could make money from my art.”

John Hinckley sitting on thefence wall in front of the White House. Courtesy of Getty Images.

John Hinckley sitting on the fence wall in front of the White House. Courtesy of Getty Images.

On March 30, 1981, Hinckley fired six shots at Reagan outside a Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC, injuring the newly elected President with a bullet that caromed off a nearby limousine. Three others, including press secretary James Brady, were also injured in the incident. 

Hinckley’s assassination attempt was purportedly inspired by Taxi Driver and carried out in an effort to impress the film’s young star, Jodi Foster, with whom he had become obsessed.

“I would very much like to see him be able to make an income from his artwork,” Hinckley’s therapist, Carl Beffa, said in court papers. “If it coincidentally happens his name is attached to it, I don’t see it would be an issue. I would be surprised if it reverted back to this narcissism he had with Jodie Foster, because it has not been present in any way whatsoever.”

Hinckley’s artwork mostly consists of painted landscapes, according to previous filings. He will have to notify his treatment providers every time he plans to publish a work of art online and must share with them any feedback he receives. 

“I don’t have a microphone in my hand. I don’t have the video camera. So no one can hear my music. No one can see my art,” he said in court filings.

“I have these other aspects of my life that no one knows about. I’m an artist. I’m a musician. Nobody knows that. They just see me as the guy who tried to kill Reagan.”

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